Michael Bafaro’s Don’t Look Away (2023) ends with a nod to horror genre doyens Sergio Martino, John Carpenter, and Larry Cohen. Drawing from the slasher genre, it is about a mannequin on a killing spree with no possible explanation as to the ‘whys’ and ‘hows,’ i.e., why does it kill, and how has it turned out to be this way? *Spoiler alert*
Don’t Look Away (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
A group of armed men stop a truck midway to rob it. When they open the rear door, they find a box that appears to have some treasure of sorts. But the men are mistaken. Opening the box has only unleashed an evil entity– a mannequin with the most slender of limbs, sunken eyes, and a twisted grin. The men get killed. Witnessing the horrible deaths with his own eyes, the truck driver tries to make a dash but gets hit by a car and gets killed instantly. Frankie, the girl driving the car, spots the mannequin in her rearview mirror, and this, if somewhat innocuous, sighting turns her life upside down.
She arrives at her home with an unreservedly obnoxious partner, Steve, who is tone-deaf and self-conceited. Frankie tries to recount the horrors of the night. But Steve does not shut up about their supposed future plans. Later, Frankie arrives at a party at the local nightclub with her friends in an attempt to forget about the night. The friends begin to leave, but Frankie and Mollie stay back. Molly insists Frankie pops some pills as an answer to all her problems. She goes to the washroom to unwind but is left shocked when she returns. She is stunned to find Molly standing amidst a heap of dead people. The mannequin has returned in search of Frankie. The mannequin slits Molly’s throat, and she is killed.
Jonah, Frankie’s old friend, leaves early from the party and feels the mannequin haunting him all around. The mannequin, however, does not kill Jonah. Jonah shares his experiences with Frankie the next day and shows her a video of a woman crying for help. The woman in the video, who is distraught beyond measure, is seen asking for help from the people on the Internet as there is a mannequin after her life. The video ends abruptly with a silhouette of the mannequin on the woman’s window.
Frankie’s friends are not ready to go with this story. They attribute it to Frankie’s shriveled mental state after having to deal with so many deaths. The mannequin suddenly appears in the room where the friends have assembled. The friends still fail to accept the existence of the mannequin and discount it as mass hysteria set in motion by Frankie.
But the mannequin is closer than they think. The friends who were initially dismissive of the threat of the mannequin get killed one by one. The friends who survived the fall– Frankie, Jonah, Lucy, and Drake– attempt to take down the mannequin, but they fail to understand the cause of its killings. Steve, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly jealous and abusive. He is increasingly suspicious about Frankie’s intentions, relationship with Jonah, and obsession with the mannequin.
Once Frankie even finds that Jonah has typed the word ‘mannequin’ several times in his Ph.D. thesis, a possible nod to Kubrick’s ‘The Shining,’ tacitly hinting at his degrading mental state. Steve haughtily tries to set fire to the mannequin, but the mannequin decapitates him. The friends figure out that the only way to stop the killing is to keep looking at the mannequin since it disappears the moment when people look away. They also find one, Victor Malick, who claims to know the manner in which the mannequin can be gotten rid of.
Victor Malick arrives
The doorbell rings. Frankie finds an old man with whitish eyes and shabby, unkempt hair at the door. Victor Malick is invited inside. He tells everyone that his daughter was the first to see the mannequin, followed by his wife. Soon, everyone around Victor started dying, but Victor was spared due to his blindness. However, he could still feel the undeniable dark presence of the mannequin all around him. He tried to track it as far as Moscow, but it always turned out to be evasive.
A week ago from now, Victor attempted to bury it in his estate to save others from its killing rampage. When Lucy says they are the only ones still alive after a face-off with the mannequin, Victor proclaims it is only a matter of time as the mannequin cannot contain its urge to kill. Later, when Frankie and Jonah leave the room to get some more coffee, Lucy sits alone with Victor and starts chatting. Frankie and Jonah spot the mannequin once again outside their kitchen window. Jonah goes to alert Victor but, to his shock, finds him in the middle of decapitating Lucy. Jonah has little to do as Victor plunges his knife into him.
Don’t Look Away (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
Can the mannequin be gotten rid of?
The noises from the drawing room trouble Frankie. Nevertheless, with the mannequin staring right at her from outside the window, she cannot go and check the source of the noise. After taking Jonah down, Victor proceeds to the kitchen with his blood-dripping knife. He nonchalantly commands Frankie not to look away. However, Frankie is able to save herself after she sees the reflection of Victor brandishing his knife on the window glass.
Knowing fully well that he has deceived Frankie and her friends into believing that he will provide some real help, Victor says that they were cursed the moment they laid their eyes on it. There is no way they could be saved. The only way out now was to kill all of them who had seen the mannequin to retract the mannequin’s killing cycle. This, however, would momentarily stop the mayhem before someone else would again encounter the mannequin.
The next scenes involve Victor chasing Frankie through her house and the latter trying her best to elude his clutches. At last, when Victor grabs her and tries to stifle her, Jonah comes from behind and hits Victor’s head with a baseball stick. He ends up killing him. Frankie and Jonah try to run away from the mannequin. But Jonah, who is fatally wounded, gives up and falls.
Some time passes. Frankie meets Jonah and tells him that she is not ready to move to Standford and wants to stay with him. That night, Frankie had sent away the mannequin, locked up in a box, to an unknown place. The men moving the box end up breaking it and see the mannequin. Thus begins a renewed killing spree of the mannequin.